Premier Notley announced plans for 4,400 additional rail cars for oil transport
By Diego Flammini
A decision to help more Alberta oil reach export destinations has farmers concerned about the effects on their crops.
On Tuesday, Premier Rachel Notley announced her government is spending nearly $4 billion to lease 4,400 new DOT-117J and DOT-117R tank cars for railway oil shipments. The investment will result in nearly $6 billion worth of revenue in three years, the government said.
Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) railways will handle the oil transportation.
The first set of cars should begin moving Alberta oil by July. Once the full complement of tank cars is operational by 2020, the railways can transport an additional 120,000 barrels of oil.
But farmers worry where grain harvests will fit into the equation because CP and CN are already struggling to meet these commitments.
Both national railways fulfilled less than 70 per cent of their hopper cars for grain the week of Feb. 3 to 8, an Ag Transport Coalition report says.
Adding another 4,400 cars to the railroads could result in further grain delivery delays, said Andre Harpe, a cash crop producer from Valhalla Centre, Alta. and member of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission board of directors.
“Any hiccups, whether it’s cold weather or derailments, delays everything,” he told Farms.com. “We’re already experiencing delays for a variety of reasons. When all of these cars come online, it’s definitely not going to help the situation for agriculture.”
But the railways are confident they can accommodate the additional infrastructure.
CN and CP have promised that the added tank cars won’t affect ag transportation, Premier Notley said.
“We have been assured by both CP and CN that this increase in crude shipments will not disrupt the movement of agricultural products that depend on rail transportation,” Notley said during the announcement, the Calgary Herald reported. “The goods (farmers) ship are essential to our province and our country.”